For the second week in a row, Shahar Pe'er came within one match of her first WTA Tour final, but faded in the semis. Pe'er and Indian partner Sania Mirza lost 6-1, 6-4 Friday to the second seeds and eventual winners, Maria Kirilenko of Russia and Argentina's Gisela Dulko at the Japan Open in Tokyo.
Kirilenko and Dulko defeated top seeds Shinobu Asagoe of Japan and Venezuela's Maria Vento-Kabchi 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in Saturday's final. Last week Pe'er and Vera Douchevina lost to American Jill Craybas and South African in the doubles semis at the Korea Open.
Pe'er's recent doubles success will see her enter the top 100 in the WTA's doubles rankings for the first time when the new rankings are released Monday. She currently occupies the 102 spot.
This week the teenager from Maccabim will play at the Thailand Open in Bangkok, where she is seeded eighth in singles. Ranked 50th in the world, Pe'er has an easy opener on paper against Severine Bremond (111), the last player accepted directly to the main draw.
Tzipi Obziler (147) is trying to join Pe'er in the main draw via the qualifying rounds. On Saturday, she won her first match, dropping Romanian Edina Gallovits (129) 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. Her next opponent on Sunday will be Australian Nicole Pratt (137).
On the men's circuit, five of Israel's top six ranked players are in Sacramento, California, for the Swanston Challenger. Dudi Sela (171) and Noam Okun (173) both advanced automatically to the main draw, while Harel Levy (232), Dekel Valtzer (464) and Ishay Hadash (570) will try their luck in the qualifying rounds.
S. Williams done for '05
Serena Williams pulled out of her last two scheduled tournaments of the season Friday in hopes of being healthy for 2006.
Williams, who won the Australian Open this year for her seventh Grand Slam title, will miss the event in Zurich, Switzerland, next week, and the Philadelphia tournament that begins October 31.
She's been hampered by left ankle and knee problems for months and played only 28 matches in 2005, going 21-7.
"My doctors and trainers have advised me that my leg needs to fully recover in order for me to play at the level that I'm accustomed to playing," Williams said in a statement released by the WTA Tour.
AP contributed to this report.
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